On November 1, we celebrate Día de los Muertos, a day to remember, honor and celebrate our deceased family, friends and loved ones. As with any proper Mexican celebration, plenty of vibrant decorations, mouthwatering snacks and strong libations are necessary — both to commemorate the dead and delight the living.
Here are the 7 things you'll need to throw a proper Día de los Muertos celebration:
1. Dia Party: Ofrenda
Build an ofrenda. Don't forget the most important part of Dia de los Muertos: celebrating the dead. An ofrenda — an elaborate altar dedicated to their spirit — is typically decorated with calaveras, papel picado banners, cempazuchitl flowers, candles, pan de muerto, framed photographs of the person being honored, personal belongings (such as a piece of jewelry), and the deceased's favorite drinks and comida.
2. Dia Party: Pan De Muerto
Bake plenty of pan de muerto. Channel your inner Martha Stewart, and bake up plenty of fresh pan de muerto to enjoy in the days leading up to the Day of the Dead. The traditional rich bun is decorated with knobby bone-shaped strips of bread and flavored with anise seeds and orange blossom water.
3. Dia Party: Calaveras
Made your own calaveras for decoration. Skip the overpriced calaveras at Urban Outfitters, and DIY your own with just five ingredients: sugar, meringue powder water, food coloring and frosting.
4. Dia Party: Papel Picado
Make your own stunning papel picado banners. Colorful banners of papel picado are essential for any Mexican-inspired celebration, but they add a special sense of festivity to the ofrendas of Dia de los Muertos. You can even DIY your own banners using templates found online. Print them out in different vibrant hues, and drape them over the altar and around your home for a quick pop of color!
5. Dia Party: Makeup
Paint yourself into living art. The majestic, bold colors of the Day of the Dead don't have to be restricted to the sugar skulls. Dulce Candy, one of our favorite beauty bloggers, taught us how to get an absolutely breathtaking Dia de los Muertos beauty look — complete with floral headdress!
6. Dia Party: Cocktails
Stir up a spirited cocktail that'll knock your guests dead — figuratively, of course. Many Mexicans decorate their ofrendas with bottles and cups of traditional Mexican drinks, like tequila, mezcal or atole. But, don't forget to have the cocktails cooking for your living friends, too.
7. Dia Party: Calacas
Get in the party spirit with calacas. Calacas are the skeleton figures commonly seen during the Day of the Dead. Usually dressed in festive garb, the calacas always look like they're ready to p-a-r-t-y. If you don't own your own set of calacas, you can DIY your own to get your guests in the spirit of the fiesta.